Resurrection Witness (Acts 5:27-32)

Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries Sunday

When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.  And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:27-32

Today we sing a song of joy and thanksgiving for a new day. The psalmist calls the people to rise up and rejoice as branches bursting with renewed life. After the night of persecution, confusion and death, there is new light and hope!  The risen Jesus enters our fearful lives, offers us peace, and sends us to cooperate with God’s abundant grace throughout the whole of creation.

Faithful witnesses all of them, Peter and the Apostles, risking death and public humiliation because they must preach what they preach. New church starts are kind of like that, though usually without the death part, because they have no building or traditions born of “we’ve always done it this way.” They have only the way in which they proclaim their faith and their hope. Just like Peter in the Book of Acts, pastors planting new churches have only themselves and the genuine message of their personal testimony to convince and invite. Such is the ministry of The Lighthouse Church of Chicago.

The Lighthouse Church is a five-year-old church plant called by God to be, “passionate about Jesus and serious about Justice.” Lighthouse is a predominately African-American LGBT-inculsive church that welcomes all people. They follow the life, teachings and ministry of Jesus Christ, believing that God has offered the greatest love story in all of human history:  the story of a God who has come to us in human form, lived, died, rose, and is soon to come again. From faith, Lighthouse takes serious the call towards Justice. Lighthouse welcomes people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, races, ethnicities, and class–beloved not in spite of the gospel, but because of the gospel. And anywhere they experience “isms” or “phobias” at work in the world, they commit to work to uproot them, inspired by the example of Christ. Pastor Jamie Frazier says of the Lighthouse Church of Chicago:  “It is wonderful to be so utterly supported by all levels of the United Church of Christ, including National!  Words cannot express the pleasure and honor it is to pastor the incredible folks at Lighthouse.”

 

 

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Resurrection Joy (John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12)

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?”  Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!”  (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.'”  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.  John 20:1-18

Facing the “Tombs” of Our Lives

When we face life’s losses, disappointments, heart-breaks, and failures, Jesus shares those with us. He also shares new life and new hope with us–resurrection.  It isn’t a one-time thing, but the dawning of a new day, and new life.  Jesus is risen!

No matter what things look like now, this Easter morning says, “Wait. We are part  of something greater than ourselves, and our lives are lived in a new age of hope.”

“Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen.”

–Mother Teresa

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More Than You Can Imagine…

We sometimes think that “imagination” means something escapist or illusory. Yet, imagination is not something unreal or fake.  It is essential to God’s hope for creation.  “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20-21).  God imagines a world where all are safe, all are loved, and all are fed.

When we use our imaginations in the way that God does, we can begin to envision–and work for! –a world…

where no child goes unfed, un-housed, or unloved; where no one ever fears abuse or           violence; where clean water is not a dream but a reality for all; where small farmers do their work with dignity and are paid a fair wage for their labors; where agricultural practices enrich and renew the land rather than deplete; where survivors of natural disasters have the resources they need, now and for years to come; where vulnerable immigrants are welcomed in Christ’s name.

Can you imagine these things?  Through your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing what we can imagine becomes ever more a reality for more and more people.

(quoted from the brochure, More than we can imagine)

 

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Shoes That Grow

There are many children in the third-world, economically disadvantaged areas that have no shoes.  Through a project called “Shoes That Grow,” St. John’s would like to help children have shoes–perhaps for the first time ever!  The shoes are adjustable and “grow” as the child grows.  A sample of the shoes can be found on the table at the front of the sanctuary.

There are boxes for you to take to hold your loose change from each day, or you can place money in the container provided.  Each pair of shows costs $15.00.  How many pairs of shoes can we purchase?  Make this monetary donation the “thing” you have given up for Lent.  how about one candy bar a day, or a soda, or instead of eating out one evening, that money is donated to the shoe fund?  Let us all share in this project for Lent.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

Centering Words for April 21:   Risen Christ, rise in our hearts with faith.Raise our voices in praise, and lift our eyes to the hills of hope. Reveal t us your presence. Raise us up to new life, even as you were risen, that we may proclaim to the world:  “Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed!”

Sunday, April 21–Happy Easter!  Easter breakfast 9 to 10 a.m.; 

Worship 10:30 a.m. Pastor Carol’s meditation is titled “YES!” based on Scriptures: John 20:1-18 and Psalm 118:14-29. The choir will sing “Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing!” and “Joy Dawned Again on Easter Day”.  The celebration of Holy Communion will take place as part of the Easter service.  Come and join us in praising the living God!

Tuesday, April 23–Ladies meet at Arby’s, 9 a.m.; TOPS, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.; Choir, 7 p.m.

Sunday, April 28–Consistory meets after worship; the last Sunday for the choir to sing; Spring Fling concert at Bluffton University, 2:30 p.m.

“If Easter says anything to us today, it says this:  You can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there. You can nail it to a cross, wrap it in winding sheets, and shut it up in a tomb, but it will rise!”  (Clarence W. Hall)

Christ Is Risen!  Hallelujah!

 

 

 

 

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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  May 28, 2019,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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St Johns Snow

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This website can now be found at www.blufftonstjohns.com!

In an effort to make this site easier for you to access, it can now be found at www.blufftonstjohns.com!  You can still find this page using the old web address, but now it will be easier to tell family and friends where they can find up-to-date news about St. John’s UCC in Bluffton, Ohio.

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